Area teams were absent from Worthen Arena and the IHSAA volleyball state finals in 2018 – but not for a lack of talent. Multiple local teams were ousted by eventual Class 3A repeat state champion New Castle and 2A state champion North Judson-San Pierre. With a slew of experienced rosters in northeast Indiana, volleyball season should bring another competitive year.
Bishop Dwenger: The Saints' 31-3 dream season was ended by powerhouse New Castle. Dwenger has won the SAC title in back-to-back years.
Leo: The Lions blasted most opponents that weren't named Dwenger a season ago. The Saints knocked off Leo in the regular season and sectionals, but one of the biggest talents in the area, Brooke Smith, returns for her final season.
Warsaw: The Tigers fell to Michigan City in the 4A regional semifinal last year, but Junior Kennedy Lauck was a spark and returns at middle hitter. She was fifth in the state last year in blocks with 164.
South Adams: The Starfires lost in the regional championship to North Judson-San Pierre but took a sectional championship home to Berne.
Concordia: The Cadets continuously battle the Saints for best in the SAC, but they lost last year's Glass Spike award winner, Caroline Morrison, who led the team for years.
Maggie Castleman, Heritage: The senior outside hitter and Purdue Fort Wayne recruit had 364 kills, 42 total blocks and 338 digs during her junior season.
Brooke Smith, Leo: As a junior, the Louisville recruit notched 492 kills and 169 digs last season – 12th most in the state.
Delaney Hogan, Bishop Dwenger: The Xavier recruit led the team with 278 kills and a .452 hitting efficiency last season as a junior.
Taylor Bransfield, Bishop Luers: As a junior, the Wright State recruit was second in the SAC in kills and posted a .240 hitting percentage.
Julia Nagy, Blackhawk Christian: Nagy had 299 kills, 358 digs and 59 aces as a junior. After an early sectional exit a season ago, Nagy and the Braves are looking for revenge.
All-State: Area players were well represented on the first and second All-State teams in 2018. Nagy, Blackhawk; Gabriela McHugh, Angola; Anna Burkhardt and Madi Ross Dwenger; Smith, Leo and Madison Schermerhorn, West Noble all made the list.
Junior All-Stars: Taya Dazey and Hogan, Dwenger; Bransfield, Luers; and Smith, Leo; were named junior north all-stars in 2018.
Surging Saints: Dwenger boasts a 62-5 record over the past two seasons and should again be the team to beat in the area.
State drought: It's been two years since an area team has reached the state finals. Blackhawk won the Class A state title in 2016 with a 3-1 win over Christian Academy of Indiana – its first volleyball state title.
Experienced Hornets: Angola went 27-6 in 2018 with a roster of 11 juniors. The most experienced area team could use that to its advantage this season.
– Elizabeth Wyman, The Journal Gazette